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What You Still Haven't "Heard" about Oblivion: Part 1
Listen to the source of all the articles you've been reading.

Josh 'Moxie' Sprague, 2005-07-11

Every E3 article about Oblivion that you've read has had a single cannon at its source -- that being the small-theatre demo hosted by Todd Howard which was shown off hourly to lucky press-pass holders. Now, they weren't allowing cameras to roll, but my minidisc and mic got a thumbs up from Pete Hines. After reviewing it, Todd's commentary is a bit echo-ey and not as crisp as I'd like. However, I decided that in the fan's shoes, I'd be willing to turn my speakers up and strain a bit to share in the experience. I've split what I recorded into two digestible mp3's, which will come out in two parts. Below, you'll find some notes to help with the mental pictures. You can get the mp3 for Part 1 here.

0:40 - The screen at this point features a title screen that has a closer resemblance to a DVD menu screen than a typical game intro screen. Imagine a tasteful parchment-colored background hosting video of castles from the game. Throw in some graphic design and the Oblivion logo and you'll have a pretty good mental image. You also get a taste of the music that I don't think they're talking about just

2:00 - Remember the screenshot with the wooden door and the glossy, wet stone walls? We'll that's where we are. Todd's showing off the physics. Swinging a chain looks cool, but when it swings into the other chains causing them to wrap around each other and sway and come apart, a few mouths go agape.

3:40 - After walking up to the door and looking out the gated window, the King and an escort can be seen in the periphery. The guard yells at the player to back up and they all walk into the cell

5:40 - The camera zooms in to the kings face and fixes itself there. Dialogue options are listed at the bottom and resemble more of a dialogue tree than the single word or phrase responses featured in Morrowind.

6:10 - This clip ends with the king and his entourage absconding through a secret passage. The player is left to follow and when he does our demo bypasses character creation and drops us into a forest.

6:40 - Picture any of the screenshots that you've seen of a forest so far.  Now imagine it moving with the breeze.  Most impressing was when the character looks up and the tree canopy overhead is softly swaying.

7:40 - When Todd picks some red mushrooms off the base of a tree, a message appears at the top which says something to the effect of "mushroom successfully gathered."  This opens up a lot of fun speculation about whether the alchemy skill will actually affect one's ability to gather ingredients this time around.

8:00 - The controversial compass makes its debut at this point and it reveals the differences in the minds of gamers when we think of a compass.  Many games label a feature a "compass" when it's really radar that reveals the map with little blips displaying monsters and loot.  This compass is more of an old-school approach and is just a simple bar that spins to show the cardinal direction the character is facing.  As the bar spins, icons show up to reveal something of interest in that direction.  After seeing the density of the forests, it's easy to see why this would be useful (unless you role-play a Ranger-type that has phenomenal direction-sense or a character with no direction-sense that just gets lost in the woods a lot).

That ends Part 1 of the audio demo.  If you enjoyed this, you'll definitely want to come back for Part 2 where you'll get to hear all about interacting with the other characters in the world and how the Radiant AI system manages them.

Average Reader Ratings: 8.55 (271 votes)
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